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Glynn County action on library a rarity in state
The vote of no confidence taken Thursday by the Glynn County Commission against the Three Rivers Regional Library System and its director is a rare action by county officials.

In fact, it's the first time a vote of no confidence has ever been taken against any member of the state library system, State Librarian Lamar Veatch says.

"This is new territory for us," Veatch said in a phone interview Friday. "It's definitely an unusual situation."

Veatch said he plans to come from his Atlanta headquarters to Glynn County this week to try to resolve the ongoing dispute between county officials and the regional system and its director, Linda Kean.

He has arranged a meeting with Kean and county officials to discuss their differences and concerns.

"We are reaching out with the parties to help resolve this," he said. "It's primarily a local conflict. We are always optimistic we can work through these conflicts."

County officials are upset about Kean's refusal to explain why she sent a letter saying a five-year agreement that brought the St. Simons Island Library into the seven-county region in 2007 would not be renewed.

The letter, sent last October, gave the county a year's notice that the agreement between the St. Simons Public Library Support Fund and the Brunswick-Glynn County Public Library would not be renewed when it expires on Oct. 31, 2012.

The 2007 agreement that brought the St. Simons Library into the regional system allows patrons access to materials in other participating libraries across the state.

Some library fund members said they believe the threat not to renew the agreement is an attempt by Kean and the regional board to wrestle control of the St. Simons Public Library Support Fund from the group controlling it. The fund is estimated to have around $200,000.

County officials argue the agreement was between the Support Fund and the Brunswick-Glynn County library, and the Three Rivers System has no say in it.

Commissioners also disagree with Kean's refusal to accept the appointment of former Three Rivers system director Jim Darby to the regional board of trustees.

Kean said the board's bylaws prohibit anyone from serving on it who was employed at any of the 10 libraries in the seven-county system within the past six years.

The six-year rule was created by the Three Rivers board. It was not mandated by the state.

Kean rejected Darby's appointment because he worked as a consultant at the Camden County Library, which is part of the Three Rivers system, after retiring from the library.

The county has the option to withdraw from the Three Rivers system, but it would prevent patrons from checking out books in other libraries across the state and returning them at another location.

Only libraries that are part of a multi-county system are allowed to participate in the program.

County officials have threatened to contact other counties to see if they are willing to create a new library region.

State librarian Veatch said it's a relatively simple process if the county finds a willing partner to form a new library region but warned that it's not a fast process.

"December of next year is probably the earliest it could happen," he said. "It does have a financial impact on other library systems around the state."

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